Day 9: Changing lanes

I take the same path to work every day. Well, every day that I go in. Sometimes I don’t. Go in, that is. But on the days that I do, my driving pattern is highly predictable. I could do it with my eyes closed if it weren’t for the other guys.

On the first day I drove into work back in June 2013, and for the weeks that ensued, I was not so predictable. I tried every path imaginable in an effort to reduce driving time; I will drive farther to get there earlier. And so by July, I established paths based on traffic volume. I now know precisely when it’s better to get off at Cavendish and take Cote-de-Liesse, rather than squeaking along 40 East to Decarie, and taking the infamous left side exit ramp (vivre le Quebec).

I change lanes often, based on which lane I believe moves faster at any given point in time. But… my lane changing pattern doesn’t change. Most of the time, that is. Exceptionally, I think, “Maybe this will be faster,” but minutes later I’m usually banging my head on the steering wheel, swearing, even if the windows are open. So most of the time, I stick to the lanes I have chosen.

“Stay in your lane” has become quite a popular expression these days, especially if you watched the last season of American Idol (I have my shows). It’s a nifty way of giving a compliment (you are great at what you do) but my hunch is that it’s more of a slap in the face: “Stick to what you know, know your place.”

Driving in to work today, I realized that my lane changing doesn’t change. It’s comfortable. I can drink my coffee, eat my bagel, talk on the phone, stare at the sun, ponder the meaning of life (which I do often) and plan my day. And then as I turn onto Cote-Ste-Catherine, to drive up to HEC Montreal, I join the Formula 1 racers for the last few minutes of my trip. At the top of the hill, I coast into the underground parking lot and, depending on the time, know exactly where I will park.

It never changes, I thought. Why?  Because the destination is always the same. Change the destination, change the path to get there.

Published by Gwyneth Edwards

Academic and practitioner in the field of strategic management.